Held in Stirling on 2nd February
A selection of keynote speeches and workshops from the conference can be browsed and accessed here.
Audio conference recordings, produced by Radio Edutalk, are here.
Presentations from many of the sessions are here.
ACTS welcome being consulted upon the new suite of Standards, and specific members valued being invited to join the writing group for The Standard for Career Long Professional Development (SCLPL). It is clear from our reading of the new suite of Standards that there is a very close relationship between these and the Standard for Chartered Teacher. The focus on teacher leadership and leadership for learning and the aspirational nature of the standards is to be welcomed.
Overall, these standards align very well to promote a coherent and connected approach to delivering effective teaching and learning in Scottish schools. The clear definitions of how each area of responsibility meshes should encourage stronger self-evaluation, critical enquiry and improvement processes for all. With regard to the role of Chartered Teachers within this framework of standards, we share the following observations, alignments with our standard, and points to note.
The Standard for Full Registration
The emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, learning across the curriculum, using contexts for learning effectively and pedagogy is welcome. The statements regarding working with others – for curricular reasons and to enable links with individuals and groups out-with school are also advantageous.
Effective use is made of diagrams throughout the standards – see note below regarding SCLPL. The organisational use of Professional Values and Commitments, Professional Dispositions, Professional Knowledge, Understanding, Skills & Abilities and Professional Actions throughout helps to unify aims and responsibilities for all.
The Standard for Career Long Professional Development (SCLPL)
There are many aspects of this standard which echo elements of the Chartered Teacher programme and overlap with our standard:
Points to note:
The Standard for Leadership and Management
The clear definition of leadership in all of its forms is welcome, as is the definition of management and the emphasis on distributed leadership. This standard demonstrates strong integration with elements of the Chartered Teacher programme and standard, including:
Points to note:
The Professional Actions of Middle Leaders as described in the standard align particularly well with the Chartered Teacher standard also:
Points to note:
Whether what is set out in the Standards is a practical and attainable representation of what can be achieved by all teachers , the vast majority of whom are class committed, and subject to constraints such as access to quality CPD and PR to facilitate this, will be tested as these Standards embed in practice. These standards should enable teachers in the classroom to realise that they are the future – the makers and shakers of learning, responsive to change, sharing values as a priority, taking on challenge and meeting it. This suite of standards is aspirational, a continuum, and as human nature dictates, will no doubt allow many to exercise their own limits and progress as far as they wish to at any given time in their career. They define the formal requirement of accountability for all involved in education and it is in full awareness of their importance that ACTS offer these comments which we hope will be helpful before finalisation of the suite.
The Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland (ACTS) present the following points, to be considered by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), regarding matters of pay and conditions of Chartered Teachers and teachers on the Chartered Teacher Pay Spine.
This statement has been developed from views recorded during a specially convened open meeting of Chartered Teachers and other educationists on 3rd March 2012, and opinions submitted to the ACTS committee.
ACTS’ aims include supporting our members and making representation on matters affecting them. Therefore we present the following points, intended to ensure fair and just treatment for all Chartered Teachers and teachers on the Chartered Teacher Pay Spine, including those currently ‘frozen’ in the middle of their Masters level studies, while maintaining the opportunities for Chartered Teachers and teachers on the Chartered Teacher Pay Spine to make a difference to pupils in schools.
ACTS contend that a fair and just SNCT agreement must ensure that:
Download statement as PDF here.
To the Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland
This Association shares your disgust that members of the McCormac Review ignored the best advice from our profession and opted to recommend an end to the CT scheme. There is no reason given for this in the report and the decision is clearly driven by financial considerations.
The SSTA did recommend changes to the scheme, largely to combat the negative publicity caused by the very few scheme members who seemed unable to practice the excellent teaching their academic work championed. The vast majority of Chartered Teachers prove themselves to be invaluable assets both to their schools and their communities.
We would also point out that any scheme which relies on a candidate funding courses themselves and investing an enormous amount of time and effort into achieving excellence, will only attract the most dedicated and determined of candidates. This commitment and dedication is an asset we should celebrate in Scotland.
The next stage of this process involves negotiation via the SNCT. We will continue to inform members via our website and facebook page. In the meantime if I can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
Scottish Secondary Teachers Association
I am writing to you as an Edinburgh resident and Chartered Teacher to urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that recommendation 19 of the McCormac Review is rejected. I would like to relate some of my own experiences of being a Chartered Teacher, why I think the Chartered Teacher Scheme is so valuable and what I think some of the problems are.
I have been a Chartered Teacher for 3 years, having spent 5 years working towards achieving the status. Whilst I am very concerned at a personal level about the implications for my job and salary should the Chartered Teacher scheme be discontinued, I am primarily concerned about the implications for education. I know that I am capable of being a Principal Teacher. However, I feel I have far more to offer as a Chartered Teacher. Principal Teachers are consistently swamped by pressing managerial tasks, whether dealing with staff absence or completing endless paperwork. Their work is largely dictated by immediate needs or imposed tasks, leaving little time or energy for reading, research and innovative practice. The problem is being exacerbated by the move to the faculty structure. On the other hand, the autonomy inherent to my Chartered Teacher role, combined with the knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence I have gained through Masters level study, allows me to reflect on my own practice and that of my department and school and to identify specific areas to focus on for improvement. I am able to identify, through reading and creative thinking, innovative ways of improving the learning experience for our pupils. I am able to devote time and attention to implementing change in a rigorous and sustainable way, based on a sound rationale, rather than being pulled in lots of directions at once as is the so often the case for a PT. The respect I have built up amongst colleagues through my work and status, along with my self-belief, allows me to influence my colleagues and encourage change in their practice, not only in my own department but across the school and authority.
There may well be some Chartered Teachers who do not consistently meet the Chartered Teacher standard. However, I wonder what that perception is based on? As a Chartered Teacher I have never been asked what specialist knowledge and expertise I have, what I contribute or could contribute to the school or how I meet the standard for Chartered Teacher. I would be happy to be more accountable. In fact, I feel disappointed that school management does not more often provide opportunities for me and other Chartered Teachers to contribute to school decision-making and CPD. I generally feel lucky in having a supportive management team who do value what I contribute to the school and have on occasion asked me to ‘share good practice’ at a whole-staff CPD session when they know I have been doing some relevant development work. However, this has usually come about at the suggestion of my excellent PT, who fully recognises the value I bring to the department and school as a Chartered Teacher and who is aware of any specific expertise I have. There is no formal mechanism to involve Chartered Teachers in taking the school forward. School improvement planning is carried out through the traditional hierarchy of SMT, JMT (PTs) and finally classroom teachers, including Chartered Teachers. New initiatives, such as AIfL are often led by a Depute Head who has been ‘trained’ in the new initiative, but who may not have a deep knowledge and understanding of the relevant research and educational theory, nor relevant classroom experience. I would love to see Chartered Teachers being consulted as an integral part of these development processes. A Chartered Teacher focus group could perhaps be created in each school which would be consulted about possible developments and initiatives at the earliest possible stage. If a Chartered Teacher has relevant expertise, he/she could be given the opportunity of leading an initiatve/development or of working in partnership with management to help ensure things are taken forward in the best way possible. There are many ways of enabling Chartered Teachers to make a greater impact, but these require a change in attitudes of managers and in school approaches and structures. If the impact is currently less than was hoped, it should not be assumed that this is the entirely the fault of Chartered Teachers.
Another reason for the perception of some people that Chartered Teachers are not making an impact is that our impact is often subtle and not always measurable. It is often leadership ‘from within’ rather than from above. For example, there have been a number of improvements in the way we teach in my department (a secondary school Science department) which I know have come about due to my input and influence at various stages. However, this has not been as a result of a formal leadership role. Instead, my influence has been through exemplification, input in discussions at meetings or in the staffroom, informal explanation of the rationale for imposed initiatives, a positive and ‘open attitude to change’ which can encourage positivity in others, to cite just a few examples. Much of the time I’m not sure my colleagues themselves realise what the catalyst was for a particular change. For change to be sustainable, there needs to be ownership. The subtle grassroots leadership of a Chartered Teacher can lead to sustained change which is owned by our colleagues and yet the careful and essential part we play in this may go almost unnoticed. This subtlety in our influence is what can make it so effective in promoting lasting change.
‘Harnessing’ the skills of Chartered Teachers should be interpreted very carefully. There are many tasks in schools which need to be carried out but which PTs and senior managers have too little time to take on. The danger is that these extra tasks or ‘responsibilities’ are imposed on Chartered Teachers to make sure we ‘earn our keep’. These may well be essential to the smooth running of the school or even of sound educational benefit. However, they may not make good use of the particular knowledge, skills and experience that we can offer and may well distract or even prevent us from undertaking more valuable work. I would, however, be more than happy for my annual Professional Development and Review to be undertaken in relation to the Chartered Teacher standard and by a senior colleague who understands the Standard. I would be happy to describe how I believe I meet the Standard, providing evidence where necessary (but not death by paperwork). I would be happy to discuss with my reviewer how I might contribute as a Chartered Teacher in the coming year – a discussion between equals, giving due recognition to my professionalism and autonomy in judging where I should focus my efforts, but also giving consideration to school and national priorities.
Finally, I think I should mention that, for a number of years, I have been contracted by the Scottish Government Teacher Recruitment Team to attend careers fairs five times a year to inform people about teacher as a career. Until this year, I had been happy to do this as I could unhesitatingly promote teaching to tentative prospective teachers, not only as an enjoyable and rewarding job, but one which offers a fair salary and a variety of career progression routes, including the Chartered Teacher route. The past year has seen many of the selling points of a career in teaching removed, suspended or put under threat. Salaries are frozen and pension payments likely to increase. Most importantly, though, the move to a faculty structure and the suspension of the Chartered Teacher scheme have taken away the prospect of career progression for all but a few new teachers. These changes have had a significant negative impact on our workload and morale. There is a great sense of betrayal and of being undervalued by local authorities and government. I have always been positive, trusting, optimistic and certainly not cynical. However, I now find myself feeling more stressed than ever in my career and starting to consider other possible careers should the situation become even worse. I still love teaching itself, but no longer feel able to promote teaching as a career to others when the future looks so bleak. Consequently I have resigned from the Teacher Recruitment Team.
I do hope you will give due consideration to what I have written and will fight hard to maintain the Chartered Teacher scheme.
Dr Catherine Williams
Chartered Teacher of Physics and Science, Holy Rood High School, Edinburgh
The article, below, is the latest in a series of posts featuring extended contributions by teachers potentially affected by Recommendation 19 of the McCormac Report. All views expressed are those of the writer. Please consider leaving a comment, below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a teacher presently working towards what would have been the last project on the Chartered Teacher qualification, I believe that Chartered Teachers’ efforts and proven impact should be valued appropriately.
Most Chartered Teachers are not, principally, financially motivated – as evidenced by the number of teachers who have opted to continue with their Masters studies. In the University of Stirling alone, 60% of those previously studying for Chartered teacher have continued to work towards their Masters qualification. These teachers have personally funded their Masters study, despite the financial hardships of the present economy and despite the fact that their work has no guarantee of financial remuneration or professional recognition. Many of those who have suspended their studies have done so, not because they are financially motivated, but because they are now financially limited. Enthusiastic and innovative teachers, some with young families to support, cannot justify the financial obligations necessary to further their development now that pay increments have been suspended.
Having read the recent McCormac review, “Advancing Professionalism in Teaching, The Report of the Review of Teacher Employment in Scotland”, I have several concerns over the soundness, and therefore the validity, of its arguments for scrapping the Chartered Teacher grade.
The expectations placed upon Scotland’s teachers are many and the pressure to deliver effective educational outcomes is increasing. The review goes so far as to say that teachers should embrace “obligations which go beyond that which can or should be embodied in a contract.” This kind of “reinvigorated professionalism”, the report states, is needed in Scotland’s teachers. The fact that Chartered Teacher training supports this “reinvigorated professionalism” has, however, been disregarded. The personal qualities that the report attributes to effective teachers: well trained, highly skilled, reflective, adaptable, committed, innovative, developing individuals – are the very traits that Chartered Teacher training cultivates.
The report wants to attract “talented individuals” to teaching: “It is important that teaching remains an attractive career option”. It has therefore found that “The levels of teachers’ pay remains at an acceptable level”. Crucially, though, the review conveys that to attract “talented individuals” to the profession, there needs to be greater access to career progression through managerial positions or “promoted posts”. The kind of duties the people in these “promoted posts” could potentially carry out is not specified and so there is a clear implication here that only managerial progression deserves financial recognition. There is no recognition that being a teacher in the classroom has valid career progression without managerial responsibility and as such has recommended the removal of career progression through Chartered Teacher qualification. Apparently improving one’s professional skills in the classroom holds no recognisable value for the McCormac review.
The report recommends “rigorous” CPD experiences in order to improve the professional ability of teachers, yet it also recommends the discontinuation of one of the best, and most vigorously quality-assured forms of CPD presently available to teachers – a form of professional development that is internationally applauded. The review proposes, instead, that schools should offer temporary “principal teacher” positions to those who wish to gain leadership experience without “significantly reducing their time in the classroom”. This would appear to suggest that leadership requires time outside of the classroom, and indeed that leadership does not relate to classroom practice in any way. The value of time spent inside the classroom is dismissed several times in favour of leadership opportunities outside of the classroom. This seems at odds with the view repeatedly stated that “High quality teachers produce positive learning outcomes for young people” (p.7) and “improving teacher quality” improves “outcomes for young people” (p.8). I fail to see how removing the financial incentive that makes Masters Level professional development and qualification accessible, improves teacher professionalism. The Chartered Teacher scheme is a recognised professional development system that values the teaching skills of teachers, rather than the managerial skills of managers. It motivates teachers to stay in the profession and improves the classroom practice of teachers on the scheme and – more importantly – those they work collegiately with.
The McCormac review states repeatedly that ‘“Advancing Professionalism in Teaching” is the goal of this review’ (p. 8). It states that “the issue of affordability cannot be ignored”, it implies that the report is not principally aimed at saving money in the education budget. On one hand, it declares that teaching should be regarded as a “Masters level” profession, on the other, this is contradicted by recommending that the Chartered Teacher scheme be discontinued. Interestingly, it advocates ending the only masters-level qualification that financially rewards teachers for their work.
What, therefore, appears to be the key motivation for the report in scrapping the Chartered Teacher route of progression is providing the taxpayer with a “value for money” (p.9) education system. I, and many of my Chartered Teacher colleagues, would welcome the opportunity to prove our sustained worth. In officially recognising the excellence present in our profession this would effectively challenge the evidence reported in the review that Chartered Teachers are being paid more to “undertake the same job they have always done with no improved outcomes for children and young people”. The evidence provided to the review which already challenges this (such as that provided by ACTS and the GTCS) appears to have been disregarded as it repeats “additional salary is, in some instances, paid to some teachers for little tangible benefit” There is no focus in the review on the additional salary which is, in many instances, being paid to many teachers for the benefits which have been proven to exist.
The implication that some Chartered teacher have useful skills is suggested by the recommendation that the skills of these professionals should be “harnessed” – rather ominous word choice with clear connotations of domination and control. It suggests that the creative and innovative nature of Chartered Teacher development should be tamed until such “active” professionalism is forced into a compliant, bland and tedious form of educational domestication.
I would give McCormac my own, humble, teacher recommendations. Many of the excellent teachers I work with find Chartered Teacher expectations (financial and academic) barriers to participation. Changes which recognise, encourage and value the existing skills of excellent teachers – chartered or otherwise – are welcome.
The review suggests that the lack of clarity over the role of chartered teachers has “made it difficult for local authorities and the teachers themselves to make the most of their skills” but does not suggest that clarification is necessary – despite the fact that 75% of their respondents reflected the desire that the scheme should NOT be scrapped. Why not simply amend it to a system in which the educational impact of each Chartered Teacher is reviewed at regular periods. This would form the kind of “system of profession recognition of teachers that demonstrate long term innovative classroom practice” that the review advocates.
Recessions come and go. Conservatism at its worst can be witnessed right now in the Tory Government’s exploitation of the present recession to cripple the education of the “great unwashed”. Teachers will always be here, in one form or another. Value us and what we do, otherwise you risk driving the best of us away. What will remain will generally be the young and inexperienced or exhausted, overworked and broken excuses for “professionals”. Where will our children be then?
ACTS member, Yvonne McBlain writes: “I am able to share with you the Falkirk Education policy Learning to Achieve. This helps to put the following draft document into context. Section 4 is the Learning and Teaching section which defines teachers’ roles and the draft Chartered Teacher page was collaboratively written then shared for consultation with our network of CTs and those en route. All feedback has been positive and this document will be printed later this session for addition to the policy. My manager is about to begin a pilot study using these for Professional Review and Development purposes.”
To David Noble,
Chair of the Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland (ACTS)
I am writing to express my support for the ACTS campaign to save the Chartered Teacher Scheme. In doing so I also wish to express my full agreement with your view that Recommendation 19 of the McCormac Review team, calling for the abolition of the Chartered Teacher Scheme, is not supported by the summary and conclusions of the Analysis of the Call for Evidence Responses.
In particular I take issue with the statement in section 5.18 of the main report that “the widely held view is that the existing cohort of chartered teachers does not singularly represent the best teachers in Scotland”. This is a pivotal statement but also a very misleading one which is constructed within the text in such a way that it serves to damage the standing of the Chartered Teacher Scheme at an early stage in Section 5 of the report. My question as a reader is whose widely held view is it? I can find no survey question which directly invited a response to the statement that chartered teachers do singularly represent the best teachers in Scotland. Is it not the case that the “widely held view” simply represents the opinions of the seven members of the Review Group? As such this does not represent evidence but rather a highly selective and most curious interpretation of the evidence that is included in the Analysis of the Call for Evidence Responses.
In fact the widely held view of 75% of the respondents from the wider education community is quite clearly that the Chartered Teacher Scheme should not be discontinued. Whilst 38% of respondents want to retain the scheme as it is unchanged, a further 37% want to retain the scheme subject to it being reviewed and revised.
The problems highlighted with the present scheme in the report include inconsistency in terms of application across all local authorities; the lack of any formal requirement for Chartered Teachers to demonstrate an enhanced level of teaching competence or to demonstrate a positive impact on outcomes for pupils; the lack of involvement on the part of all head teachers in decisions over which staff undertake Chartered Teacher status; and the lack of clearly defined roles, responsibilities and expectations for a Chartered Teacher in the school that are different to classroom teachers. However these problems have more to do with failure in terms of policy and decision making at a local level and also with poor quality of leadership and management in those schools which have such problems rather than with the Chartered Teacher Scheme itself. All of these aspects could be addressed in a review of the scheme which was open and involved all stakeholders.
In my view Recommendation 19 of the McCormac Review team is very misguided and is not supported by the evidence presented. In contrast, as Gordon Kirk highlights in his important and well informed account of its development, the Chartered Teacher Scheme was introduced after a very extensive consultation and development exercise. Furthermore it was widely welcomed as a step in the professional enhancement of teaching and was seen as a way of recognising and financially rewarding accomplishment as a teacher. Most significantly it was endorsed by the General Teaching Council for Scotland as representing a standard of professional achievement to which every teacher might aspire. Also as Gordon reminds us, the Standard for Chartered Teacher (SCT) was grounded in a major research study that included an analysis of the international evidence on accomplishment as a teacher. Accordingly the development of the Chartered Teacher Scheme placed Scotland at the forefront internationally in supporting the development of teaching as a research informed profession.
The particular success of the Chartered Teacher Scheme for individual teachers in supporting the idea of the teacher as researcher is common knowledge within the education community in Scotland. The recommendation by the Review Group makes no sense, is not supported by the evidence and if implemented would represent a step backwards rather than forwards in the long standing aspiration for teaching to become a research informed profession. Therefore I wish to express my full support for the ACTS in calling on the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning to reject Recommendation 19 of the McCormac Review team and instead to retain the scheme subject to it being reviewed and revised in such a way as to address the issues, inconsistencies and problems identified in the report.
Good luck with your campaign,
Professor Brian Hudson
7th October 2011
Brian Hudson is Professor of Education at the University of Dundee. However he speaks in his own right and not on behalf of the University of Dundee. He also speaks as a Fellow of the College of Teachers who currently serves as a Council Member, Trustee and Chair of the Publications Committee and as a National Teaching Fellow who was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in 2004.
Delegates at the Education and Culture Committee on 27th September enjoyed a bit of a laugh. Here’s what provoked it. When suggested that the Report of the Review of Teacher Employment in Scotland ‘could have had more clarity’, its author, Professor Gerry McCormac pointed to Recommendation 19 – that the Chartered Teacher Scheme be discontinued. He demurred, ‘I do not see how that is ambiguous’. For his wit, he was rewarded with a bit of a snigger. Only, the laughter rings hollow. In 2003 a deal was struck with teachers that, should they invest many years of their own time and money in professional development, their efforts would be recognised and rewarded. Now, the government must decide whether it will honour its commitment to Chartered Teachers. If the Scheme is abolished, it will mean a betrayal of Scottish teachers who entered the scheme to enhance their professional skills whilst remaining in the classroom. The enhanced professionals necessary to deliver CfE will be lost. Without the Scheme, teachers will not invest time, effort and money to embark on Master’s level qualifications. Nor will they ever trust the government again.
Professor McCormac’s report is based on questionable research and recommendations built upon a catalogue of contradictions. McCormac concedes the CT Scheme is ‘laudable in its aims’ and he has ‘evidence that demonstrated the commitment and professionalism of many Chartered Teachers’. Yet, this evidence has been dismissed in favour of his own anecdotal evidence and what he refers to as ‘the widely held view that the existing cohort of chartered teachers does not singularly represent the best teachers in Scotland.’ The reason for this, he tells us, is ‘the means of entry to the scheme did not provide a sufficiently robust means of screening applicants.’ We might surmise it is likely there are excellent classroom teachers who choose not to commit huge amounts of their own time and money to the CT Scheme. Only, which robust method did he employ to screen this invisible multitude of non-verified ‘best teachers’ he refers to? McCormac’s argument that there has not been ‘sufficient gate keeping’ is hardly apposite. You can knock on someone’s door; they need not let you in. It is not easy to attain the Standard for Chartered Teacher.
Professor McCormac states there are ‘barriers to participation in the Chartered Teacher Scheme in the form of finance and…time available to complete the modules.’ True. Some CTs will find the Scheme prohibitive. However, this is the cry of equality that pulls everyone down. If McCormac has alternative suggestions for sources of funding, let us hear them. McCormac dismisses the CT route to Masters as ‘too academic’. He presses the case for a profession educated to Masters Level, yet suggests the abolition of one means by which this might be effected.
For the past ten years, hundreds of CTs and those on route to CT have been researching, reflecting, and having their performance verified through testimony and academically referenced evidence. McCormac declares his evidence to be copious (3,400 responses) and that some of the responses were ‘very detailed’. Positive, negative; objective, subjective? We are not told. Astonishingly, the single piece of statistical research we are given reveals that 75% of those consulted believe the scheme should be kept! CTs are expected to produce research based on concrete evidence, not amass detail from conjecture and hearsay. We expected no less of The McCormac Review. Educational research has to be more than the collation of criticisms and castigations; compliments and accolades.
Professor McCormac raises the concern that ‘some chartered teachers are paid more to undertake the same job’. Why would a CT’s job change? Once status has been gained, CTs must maintain their proven standards of excellence and deliver the Code of Practice for CTs. One CT describes McCormac’s proposal, that existing CTs be managed on what is basically the old Senior Teacher post, as ‘a back to the future irony’. Ten years have passed since the decision was made that these posts were mere managerial dictates with no place in an autonomous, self-reflecting, self-regulating, teaching profession.
CTs across the country have demonstrated their commitment to innovation and active research. Instead of toting up hours, sitting through the worst forms of directed CPD, CTs are required to constantly review their own professional development, be forward-thinking and propose new learning situations, which are then implemented for the benefit of pupils and schools. Totally in line with the GTC’s professional update. Critical evaluation of new learning situations is evaluated and, in many cases, disseminated to colleagues in-school and further afield. It goes straight to the heart of what is required for Professional Review and Development.
Professor McCormac claims to have evidence of Chartered Teachers hiding their status “lest expectations would rise that they should contribute more.’’ Are we to believe CTs – who have committed themselves to many years of professional development – are locking themselves away in school cupboards in fear of what might be expected of them? In any case, this disregards both the Revised Standard and the SNCT Code of Practice. We need proper review and we need accountability. But we also need trust, fairness, and reasonable-mindedness. Chartered Teachers hoped for clarity and vision. What we got was a review based on hypocrisy and hubris, riddled throughout with contradiction and inconsistency. A burning and a shining light, this is not.
The article, below, is the eighth in a series of posts featuring extended contributions by teachers potentially affected by Recommendation 19 of the McCormac Report. All views expressed are those of the writer/s. Please consider leaving a comment, below, or email email@example.com.
Details of the CT Futures campaign to save Chartered Teacher and the forthcoming CT summit in Stirling on 8th October are here.
This is the title of an article that will shortly appear in The College of Teachers’ journal Education Today. It is written by David Hawker – a former Director General of Education for Wales – and an educationist at the forefront of the Every Child Matters agenda south of the border.
Hawker makes much play of the recent McKinsey report that emphasises the importance of teacher quality; and he also considers international performance measures like PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS.
The first striking point he makes is ‘from a longitudinal study in the United States, where pupils’ progress was measured against the quality of their classroom teacher:
Teacher quality is the most important lever for improving student outcomes.
Analysis of test data from Tennessee shows that teacher quality affects student performance more than any other variable.’
The second striking feature is ‘a study of the impact of school leadership activities on student outcomes in England’ which shows (to a statistically significant degree) that school leaders make most impact when they promote and participate in Teacher Learning and Development. According to Hawker (2011) this ‘illustrates the importance of concentrating on the quality of teaching in the classroom, and the importance of school leaders making it their highest priority.’
Of particular interest is McKinsey’s ‘mapping out a so‐called ‘improvement journey’ which allows all systems to be plotted on a continuum from ‘poor’ to ‘excellent’. Each stage of the improvement journey is characterised by specific types of intervention, and six common interventions are identified which apply to all stages in the journey.’
‘McKinsey’s research finds that a unique ‘intervention cluster’ exists for each improvement journey’ If we consider Scotland’s improvement journey to be that of moving from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’ then the intervention cluster theme is ‘shaping the professional’. If we think Scotland’s improvement journey is from ‘Great’ to ‘Excellent’
then the intervention cluster theme is ‘improving through peers and innovation’. In either case – the development of the classroom teacher is at the heart of such improvement.
If we judge the Scottish education system to be on the ‘Good to Great’ improvement journey which emphasizes ‘shaping the professional’ then the most important theme intervention types are:
▪Raising calibre of entering teachers and HTs;
▪Raising calibre of existing teachers and HTs; and
It’s difficult to see how the McCormac report will promote any of these intervention types. Indeed, its initial effect is likely to be the opposite.
1. Potentially high calibre entrants to the teaching profession may be deterred by the lack of promotion opportunities – especially within the classroom.
2. The high calibre existing teachers are likely to be demoralised and deflated even just by the thought that the Chartered Teacher scheme can be scrapped.
3. School-based decision-making will be reduced to micro-management as well-intentioned and highly capable teachers seek to implement directives from above.
Crucially, Hawker (2011) concludes with five telling points – four of which condemn the McCormac report:
‘First, successful system transformation depends on having good quality data from which an accurate analysis of the current performance of the system can be derived.’
‘But where is McCormac’s good quality data?’ The Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland (ACTS) submitted credible evidence based on sound data; but McCormac prefers to draw conclusions from anecdotal evidence. Worse still, McCormac prefers to ignore evidence. How else can one explain recommendation 19 when more than three quarters of respondents advocate retention/amendment of the CT scheme?
‘Second, successful system transformation depends on having consistent, supportive and engaged leadership at every level, from the political leadership at the top to the leaders in individual schools.’
How often do you enjoy such engaged leadership? Anecdotally, I can speak of but, no, I don’t want to sink to the level of the McCormac report. As a former policeman I know the importance of evidence – it can change people’s lives – for the worse. And as an active teacher-researcher I appreciate the value of evidence – it can transform children’s lives – for the better.
‘Third, successful system transformation will always focus on improving quality at the front line.’
How does abandoning the CT Scheme achieve this? How cognisant are the members of the review group with ‘quality at the front line?’ An actor and a journalist can be members but not one practising teacher? The views of thespians and media commentators take precedence over those who live their lives in the classroom?!
St Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and, arguably, the greatest theologian-philosopher writes that ‘Teaching is one of the highest manifestations of the life of the mind, for the reason that in teaching the vita contemplativa and the vita activa are … united in a natural and necessary union.’ To contemplate teaching from behind the desk of a headteacher; or the desk of a university principal; or a council office desk – this is not the ‘highest manifestation of the life of the mind’. You have to be active in the classroom, on your feet, making instant judgements – this is exercising the life of the mind. And this may prove to be our consolation. No matter the outcomes of the SNCT negotiations: we will still be in the classroom. We will still be teaching – still exercising one of the highest manifestations of the life of the mind.
And finally, Hawker (2011) concludes that ‘successful system transformation depends on adapting universal principles to the specific context.’ One universal principle is that “The person with understanding does not know and judge as one who stands apart and unaffected; but rather, as one united by a specific bond with the other, he thinks with the other and undergoes the situation with him” (Bernstein, Beyond Objectivism and Relativism, 1983). I see no lawyer beside me in the classroom; the only acting is performed by me and the pupils. The members of the McCormac review have stood apart from chartered teachers and judged us – and found us wanting. But they display no understanding – they never knew – or they have forgotten what it is like to be an accomplished teacher. To be an accomplished teacher is to accept gladly, the variety, complexity and challenge of the classroom. And we do.
Another universal principle is that improving a teacher improves student learning outcomes – and in a Scottish context this means retaining and improving the CT Scheme. And we must.